Dragonheart - Page 4

"Gentlemen," I hissed, hovering like a picture of menace before the opening to the cave no one but myself even knew existed. By the flickering torches they carried, I counted a motley collection of easily over a dozen bandits. "Since I severely doubt any of you are the praying sort, I'm just going to skip any further formalities." Having seemingly appeared out of nowhere, and with my face and form completely engulfed by the dark hooded robe which I was wearing, the ruffians just stared at me like I was Satan himself come to collect them . . . and they weren't as far off as they once would have been. Almost conversationally I added, "I see you like playing with fire . . ."


Shocked by the enormity of the risk I had just taken, I huddled in a heap as far away from the entrance of my cave as its limited space allowed, and tried to focus on my breathing to the exclusion of everything else. I was in the process of failing miserably when a voice hesitantly called out, “Sir?”

“Go away!” I pleaded, hating myself for how pathetic my voice sounded, and hating myself even more for not being able to stop myself from cringing at the sound of a civil human tone.

“We . . . have nowhere we can go, sir,” the voice answered. It was the man. “The bandits burnt my feet such that I can not walk, and my wife . . .” His voice caught here. “Her hands are such that she can no longer carry the baby for long.”

I'd seen that. As I had occupied myself with . . . chastising the type of people who thought it was funny to set an infant's swaddling clothes aflame, I'd seen the mother doing her best to extinguish the flames with her own hands as soon as the bandits, having me to to occupy them, had released her. Too late she had realized the necessity of simply removing the cloth from the baby . . . too late for both of them.

“I'm sorry,” I whispered, but the man didn't hear. “That doesn't matter,” I said in a louder voice laced with false steel. “If you stay here, you will die.”

“Without aid, the baby shall soon die regardless. My wife, still occupied with her prayers of thanks, does not yet know this . . . but I do,” was the man's soft reply. “As I likewise know there is no aid to be found elsewhere even if we could go. Thus, if we are to die, I choose that we stay here so that we might die together . . . as a family.”

Page 4

Previous ~ Index ~ Next